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  #1  
Old 11-11-2017, 12:00 PM
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Default Pheasant Opener Rant

I'll start by saying, this is my first year trying for pheasant, so I'm no expert. However, this morning something happened that defied explanation for me. Hopefully the more seasoned hunters can either validate my concerns or at least give me some difference perpective.

The Place: Southern Most Feather River Wildlife Area (Nelson Slough)

I get out there about a quarter to 7am, shoot time is @ 8am so I have plenty of time to get set up. It's extremely foggy, about 50 feet visibility. There are a lot of hunters out, which I attributed not only to it being opening day but also the fact that a stocked Women's and Junior's hunt took place in Nelson Slough last weekend, and they always release more birds than they shoot (hense why I'm there too).

I take up my place just West of Feather River Bridge, as it appears everyone is lining up along the levee to push South towards the river.

8am rolls around and everyone starts walking South, then out of no where, a bunch of hunters get in front of our line, pushing South and West. They start flushing birds and knocking them down like nobody's business. Pop, pop, pop! I try to double time it forward to cover the distance between me and the new "front line" but by then, the whole field has bottle necked so bad that everyone is on top of each other. Guys are taking shots across other hunters, and over other's heads.

There's so much mayhem going on, one old timer off to my right says, "It's like being back in the war." A fellow with a dog tells me he's turning back to push East cuz he doesn't want to accidentally get shot, and offers to let me tag along. I do, but after an hour of nothing but listening to the distant shots of other hunters, and being soaked up to my nutsack, I decide to call it a day.

On the bright side, I have more experience today than I had yesterday, but I can't help but feel a little cheated when some yahoo who comes out of left field drops two roosters right in the path where I was going to be.

/rant off.
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Old 11-11-2017, 2:56 PM
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I'm not familiar with that area at all. Sounds like a case of not only needing to know your quarry but also your competition.

The first few years I hunted public land near me I would do all sorts of research to find the animals, figure out a place to be, etc and then on opening weekend for there to be 5 other parties out there with the same plan. It's a real bummer when you can't enact your plan and an even bigger bummer when you see someone else do it and succeed. Not much to be done but keep trying.

I hear you though. That sounds real frustrating.

Last edited by drutledge79; 11-11-2017 at 2:58 PM..
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Old 11-11-2017, 3:03 PM
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Sounds like opening day for deer back east.

I never did it, because the stories were like yours. Everyone stomps out in the dark woods, nobody sees who is around, then, when the season opens, everyone opens up, except its rifle shots being taken at about gut-chest high, at anything that moves.

Guys have told me they proned out and didnt move at all until the sun was well overhead.

Eff that noise. Buck fever is a killer.
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Old 11-11-2017, 3:23 PM
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Welcome to public land hunting with idiots.
I have not hunted birds in years. Stopped when I no longer had private property to hunt.
Not worth getting shot.
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Old 11-11-2017, 5:58 PM
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Head on down to the Mojave. We’ve got fewer birds and more area, so you’ll be safe.


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Old 11-11-2017, 6:28 PM
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Ah man..sorry to hear you didn’t have a successful day.

Had a similar experience. Sitting in my car, minding my business and some old timer knocks on my window to talk. Tells me to go right, that’s where the birds are. Said he helped with the youth hunt.

Bro in law shows up and we go left to avoid the other hunters. Who do we see? Yeah, the old timer.

Bro in law has a great pointer so this guy walks to the river side of us about 100 yards away and going in the same direction, hoping to shoot a bird that’s being pushed by us. He also could shoot at birds that we might have missed if they flew in his direction. Sure enough, a bird flushes and this guy is now facing me and off to the side. I don’t raise my gun because he’s there. Doesn’t stop him from raising his gun and shooting the bird. He says “don’t worry, I saw you.”

Unbelievable!

I stopped going back the year after.

My suggestion is to pay. You’ll have the field to yourself and can have the birds marked for you (helpful for beginners). Quail and chukar are more fun to shoot once you get some experience. It’s sad but the wild pheasant population in CA is not what it used to be 20-30 years ago.
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Old 11-11-2017, 7:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Citadelgrad87 View Post

Guys have told me they proned out and didnt move at all until the sun was well overhead.

Eff that noise. Buck fever is a killer.

Lmao, I know it’s no laughing matter but the image of a bunch of hunters laying flat on their bellies playing dead til they figure all the trigger-happy nutballs have relaxed a lil got me rolling. Nothing like a relaxing day of hunting!!
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Old 11-11-2017, 7:50 PM
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Sorry to hear about your experience. I hunted there with my dog on opening day, years ago. It was the last! Also had similar experience with opening day for Dove at another WA.
Opening day on CA public land is crazy!
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Old 11-11-2017, 8:04 PM
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I've hunted that area many times and yes the cleanup operation after the youth hunt is ugly, once was enough.

That and the other WA's along the feather offer some shooting, if you go to where you have to "walk in" early you will do better.
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Old 11-11-2017, 9:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Divernhunter View Post
Welcome to public land hunting with idiots.

I used to hunt the wildlife refuges a lot many years ago. Sometimes I could get drawn for a slot, other times I’d just wait the sweat line.

Duck hunting on NWR’s was a parade of “laughing a**holes” and “skyscrapers”. Those who duck hunt will know they are!!

And yeah, it’s a real buzzkill, which is often all that gets killed. At least with ducks they just need some open water and reeds and such. Pheasants on the other hand need some kind of crop.

And that’s the problem. The best pheasant lands are the rice fields, and that means private property. Oh, there’s some other good lands, but most of it is private and belongs to or leased to clubs. Same with waterfowl. Best lands of all places are private land adjacent to the NWR’s.

Best thing to do I’m guessing, since I haven’t really bird hunted in probably 20 years, is join a bird hunting club.
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Old 11-12-2017, 5:20 AM
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That is why I hunt private. Hunted 2 hours and got 2 pheasants 2 chukar and a couple quail and dove. Home at noon.
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Old 11-12-2017, 6:24 AM
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I never go opening day for anything any more, just to many people and idiots. Take a day off in the middle of the week and go its much nicer and there will be birds as a lot of people will miss.
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Old 11-12-2017, 6:35 AM
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Agree with FJ40 - I won't hunt CA refuges on openers. When folks are more concerned with killing than the safety of themselves and other hunters I have no interest in being around them. One bad experience like this could ruin a new hunter's introduction to the outdoors.

OP - Club birds are $$ don't fly like wild ones but not getting shot by some jackwagon POS is a worthwhile tradeoff. PM me if you'd like to hunt some ducks on PRIVATE land and maybe jump some wild roosters off the levee (near Sac refuge).
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Old 11-12-2017, 9:14 AM
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Just like fishing in certain areas, except fisticuffs instead of #6 birdshot.
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Old 11-12-2017, 9:34 AM
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As an interesting addition to my story, I didn't even intend on hunting pheasant that day. I got up with all intentions to go turkey hunting. I got about 30 minutes away from home and realized, I hand't changed the choke out in my shotgun. Not wanting to hunt turkeys with a medium modified cylinder, I decided to change routes and head over for pheasant.

Went for a drive this morning and saw a pheasant rooster pecking in a field on the side of the highway. All I had was a break-barrel air rifle, but at 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday, I didn't want to go knocking on some farmer's door to ask if it was okay to pop this pheasant on his property. I ended up moving on in the interest of legality. Sure is hard being ethical sometimes.
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Old 11-12-2017, 4:34 PM
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I was at Feather River (Nelson Slough unit) on Saturday also. SOOO many yahoos. It was so foggy too. Very nervewracking to hear gunshots so close but without being able to see the person. Since everybody was heading south from the gate, I went north. But even then it was too crowded. I hightailed it even further north across the slough where it was less populated. Alas, no birds for me, but I did bump a bedded down deer! Might take a day off in the middle of the week like FJ40 suggested. And finding a place that's requires a tougher hike in.
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Old 11-12-2017, 4:40 PM
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Gadzooks! No wonder I head to the high desert area for my birds. If pheasant hunting is that crazy, no thanks. I'll head over to Idaho and have a relaxing hunt. Not putting up with a ton of "hunters" shooting willy-nilly.
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Old 11-12-2017, 4:53 PM
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Standing elbows to ásshóles on opening day with ftards with weapons is never fun, what is worse is opening day for doves in Yuma Az in popular areas.

Do your scouting in areas less congested for more satisfying shooting.
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Old 11-12-2017, 7:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tony270 View Post
Just like fishing in certain areas, except fisticuffs instead of #6 birdshot.

In PA , the fish commission releases stocked trout in the spring, we call 'em "store boughts"
....... anyhow , you'd think they were gold bars they way supposedly grown men act
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Old 11-12-2017, 8:05 PM
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Planted birds meh.......down in the IV it will be a great year for wild birds on open private property

You couldn't pay me to hunt a public planted field.....you get every dick unless the FG are there watching. They plant a few fields down here, I've never been in 20+ years and never will
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Old 11-13-2017, 7:43 AM
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Sounds about par for the course, especially when it comes to mopping up planter birds. OP - Your better off doing a day bird hunt at a reputable club where it's not combat hunting, or just waiting until after opening weekend.
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Old 11-13-2017, 7:47 AM
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In PA , the fish commission releases stocked trout in the spring, we call 'em "store boughts"
....... anyhow , you'd think they were gold bars they way supposedly grown men act
Fish & Game plants our local lakes with Rainbows, & occasionally Kokanees, in a few of the lakes. We used to eat the Kokanees, which were very good. We tried a few of the planter holdover Rainbows, they lived up to their name of "Purina rainbows".

"Grown men", Yes, the launching ramp is swarming with people when they plant. As with the Pheasant Rant thread, hunting, & fishing on public lands is so "Public"
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:27 PM
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Sounds about par for the course, especially when it comes to mopping up planter birds. OP - Your better off doing a day bird hunt at a reputable club where it's not combat hunting, or just waiting until after opening weekend.
I think the issue I have is that I have a romanticized idea of what hunting should be vs. what hunting really seems to be.

I've been drawn the idea of hunting as a way to obtain food that I didn't otherwise pay for (except for license/tags of course). Going to a club and paying to shoot birds that were raised on a farm seems a lot more like going to the grocery store with an extra step.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by omgwtfbbq View Post
I think the issue I have is that I have a romanticized idea of what hunting should be vs. what hunting really seems to be.

I've been drawn the idea of hunting as a way to obtain food that I didn't otherwise pay for (except for license/tags of course). Going to a club and paying to shoot birds that were raised on a farm seems a lot more like going to the grocery store with an extra step.

That's a good analogy and though i do shoot on a club it's more of a thing i do to grow my dog.

A wild rooster is a worthy challenge, too much of a challenge to expect to eat pheasant except rarely without a dog.
Them's the rules.
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Old 11-13-2017, 1:21 PM
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Originally Posted by omgwtfbbq View Post
I think the issue I have is that I have a romanticized idea of what hunting should be vs. what hunting really seems to be.

I've been drawn the idea of hunting as a way to obtain food that I didn't otherwise pay for (except for license/tags of course). Going to a club and paying to shoot birds that were raised on a farm seems a lot more like going to the grocery store with an extra step.
"Pay for" ? I can only speak for myself, hunted ducks, geese, pheasants, doves, & Nevada Mule deer for many, many years with my Dad. Enjoyed hunting, & fishing with him, plus the challenge & satisfaction of "Getting it right"

Never did a cost comparison on "Free meat", but doubt that it was "Free",
although that is what I used to tell my wife. She kindly said: "Of course"

It is my guess that chicken, bought at Safeway, costs less than Pheasant taken on public lands, definitely if one hunts on some sort of club.

It is my opinion that it is extremely rare for a free lunch to be free.
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Old 11-13-2017, 7:27 PM
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Fish & Game plants our local lakes with Rainbows, & occasionally Kokanees, in a few of the lakes. We used to eat the Kokanees, which were very good. We tried a few of the planter holdover Rainbows, they lived up to their name of "Purina rainbows".

"Grown men", Yes, the launching ramp is swarming with people when they plant. As with the Pheasant Rant thread, hunting, & fishing on public lands is so "Public"
hunting deer in PA , for oh .....35yrs . ..... I have had only 2 as I recall times when another hunter came in and sat on top of me.
Once was public land and once was private where the guy and lady turned out to be trespassing.
I've had folks do it who didn't see me at 1st and then moved on , I don't count those.
It happens. And you can tell cause they have a surprised reaction when they do see you and then they move.

Trout season whether on a creek or lake is different .......... and there are places you know it's not worth going to as all you'll do is fight the crowd all day.
The other locations still get a ding-a-ling here and there and like my 2 encounters while deer hunting ... these folks do not seem to want a confrontation and are punks ...... I do know some where it has come to blows but never in my case and I have gotten pretty ignorant , they don't even look at you.
And I've thrown stuff at one hunter and even pee'd on a fisherman once .....and I think I'm a pretty nice guy to be honest.
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Old 11-13-2017, 7:36 PM
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Hey , I hate to hi-jack but I have a little launching ramp story speaking of such things.
I was at Raystown once and a guy was trying to guide his wife driving the truck back down the ramp.
She's having a hard time of it , he's flipping out with yellin and screamin .....
I felt bad for the lady , he gets her out of the truck and goes to back it in him self ............ he's mad and in a hurry and I think that's why he was doing even worse then she did.
He gets out and and is yellin at her as if his drivin is her fault.
I was wrappin up my boat and i walked over and asked if he wanted some help I been backing up boats for years and somedays you just ain't got the touch I tell him .....which I find to be true.
He says NICELY to me "yes" , I crawl in his truck and because I feel bad for the lady and want to help her out the most .... I lean back out and say NICELY ...oh by the way .....you talk to me like you did her and I'll punch you in the mouth.
I REALLY think she felt better after that, she looked it ... and he may have learned something.
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Old 11-14-2017, 7:38 AM
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Been using, & still do, launching ramps for about 60 years. I should write a book. Launching ramps are so public.

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Old 11-14-2017, 11:30 AM
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Launching ramps? Backing this guy down a narrow, single lane ramp with steep drop offs on both sides was a bit tricky.

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Old 11-14-2017, 1:18 PM
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Look, there are trades offs for just about everything outdoors. Yes, I prefer hunting wild pheasants, but unless you've been living on another planet for say.....30 years or so, there just are not that many wild birds left in CA. So, if you want to work your dogs, spend some good times with your friends and shoot a few shotgun shells, your option is likely a private bird club. No, it isn't wild bird hunting....not even close, but what other options does one have to hunt pheasants in California? Not many.
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Old 11-14-2017, 1:57 PM
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I think the issue I have is that I have a romanticized idea of what hunting should be vs. what hunting really seems to be.

I've been drawn the idea of hunting as a way to obtain food that I didn't otherwise pay for (except for license/tags of course). Going to a club and paying to shoot birds that were raised on a farm seems a lot more like going to the grocery store with an extra step.
Subsistence hunting & gathering was made virtually illegal many years ago.

I think that a lot of hunting is overly romantic -- especially regarding who other hunters are and what they're like.

But the game is also romanticized. Pheasants hunting here is mostly farm birds (unless you're on a private land rice-field kind of area). If I want a farm bird, I'll just grab one of my chickens.

Years back, I took my 9-month old springer for his first quail hunt near here on some BLM land. I didn't realize beforehand that it was opening day for deer. That place was a zoo! I recently found out that a local club organized deer drives in that area back then. Cars were parked everywhere along the road, leaving few places to pull off. I found an more isolated place to start working but soon, 3 loud hunters swooped in behind me & the pup & started driving right toward us. I called in the pup, took cover among some boulders and waited for them to pass. While waiting, a nice 4x buck stood up not much more than 30 yards away from us and trotted off. I don't think the hunters ever saw us or the deer as I never heard a shot that day other than my own. I didn't return there for over a decade. Now, in the last 3 years, I've only seen 4 other hunters in the area -- total. The quail are pretty nervous out there so I'm sure there are more hunters than what I see. But it's nice to have a quiet place to hunt.
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Old 11-14-2017, 2:07 PM
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Welcome to public land hunting with idiots.
YEPPPP x100
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Old 11-14-2017, 3:02 PM
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Look, there are trades offs for just about everything outdoors. Yes, I prefer hunting wild pheasants, but unless you've been living on another planet for say.....30 years or so, there just are not that many wild birds left in CA. So, if you want to work your dogs, spend some good times with your friends and shoot a few shotgun shells, your option is likely a private bird club. No, it isn't wild bird hunting....not even close, but what other options does one have to hunt pheasants in California? Not many.
Hunted "Wild Pheasants" in the Sacramento valley on farmer's "Co-ops" many years ago. Then the surrounding bird club's planted Pheasants escaped into the area we hunted. The planted birds were big, nice & fat, tasted much better than wild birds, but they didn't like to fly. We were fortunate to be able to hunt on a cousin's 2,000 acre farm in South Dakota for many years.

As farming methods improved there was less natural cover. We saw a gradual decline in the wild bird population, & as in California, the farmers started establishing bird clubs. We saw an increasing number of escaped planted birds showing up.

Was invited to hunt on a bird club near Cordelia, thought I was in a combat zone. Way, way too many hunters, all shooting at ground level, all over the place, very scary, I went once, last time I hunted Pheasants in California.
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Old 11-14-2017, 3:28 PM
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All this talk of the wildness of openers and such is one reason I stopped deer hunting. When we used to draw X-12, it was usually pretty tame on the opener, then, we had the place to our selves for the next 5-8 days. Last ime I shot a deer in Ca[X-12] was 2012. I never expected that many "hunters" and they're damn ATV's! It turned me into an avid upland hunter.
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Old 11-14-2017, 3:38 PM
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All this talk of the wildness of openers and such is one reason I stopped deer hunting. When we used to draw X-12, it was usually pretty tame on the opener, then, we had the place to our selves for the next 5-8 days. Last ime I shot a deer in Ca[X-12] was 2012. I never expected that many "hunters" and they're damn ATV's! It turned me into an avid upland hunter.
ATVs are one of the main reasons I stick to very isolated areas up high rather than the 5-6k' range. And it's a big reason why I joined BHA. They used to have a bumper sticker that read, "USE THE QUADS GOD GAVE YOU."
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Old 11-14-2017, 4:00 PM
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Launching ramps? Backing this guy down a narrow, single lane ramp with steep drop offs on both sides was a bit tricky.

There is SO MUCH Testosterone just oozing from that post .... the wife just came over and was looking around like she was searching for something.....
You can work under the hood of your vehicles outside , in the winter without gloves .... I can tell.
A man from the old school , That's awesome , I love it!
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Old 11-14-2017, 5:40 PM
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There is SO MUCH Testosterone just oozing from that post .... the wife just came over and was looking around like she was searching for something.....
You can work under the hood of your vehicles outside , in the winter without gloves .... I can tell.
A man from the old school , That's awesome , I love it!
"Testosterone"? At 82, not sure how much is left? "Without gloves"? We are at about 6,700 feet elevation in the Sierras, it is cold in the winter. Since I started buying Japanese made cars my tools have become very lonely. Just last year I started having the oil changed by a "Professional". If my Dad was in a grave, he would be rolling over in it, what with Japanese cars & paying someone else to do what you can do, "Sorry, Dad"

Working on a car outside is uncivilized.
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Old 11-14-2017, 5:47 PM
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Originally Posted by CVShooter View Post
ATVs are one of the main reasons I stick to very isolated areas up high rather than the 5-6k' range. And it's a big reason why I joined BHA. They used to have a bumper sticker that read, "USE THE QUADS GOD GAVE YOU."
We used to hunt deer in northern Nevada. Our biggest competition was other hunters on horses. IIRC, we saw two guys trying to ride their Tote Goat up the canyon, they were working harder than we were on foot. Many years later my wife & I took a trip back to the area I used to hunt in. The deer season was open at the time, looked like an ATV convention.
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Old 11-14-2017, 6:28 PM
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My point exactly. What ever happen to quite leg power? If you/me can hear those things, the deer/elk can hear and smell 'em way before than us.
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Old 11-14-2017, 10:21 PM
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"Testosterone"? At 82, not sure how much is left? "Without gloves"? We are at about 6,700 feet elevation in the Sierras, it is cold in the winter. Since I started buying Japanese made cars my tools have become very lonely. Just last year I started having the oil changed by a "Professional". If my Dad was in a grave, he would be rolling over in it, what with Japanese cars & paying someone else to do what you can do, "Sorry, Dad"

Working on a car outside is uncivilized.
At 82 there's no shame in passing off oil changing duties to a PRO , just double check that PRO's work as they aren't as good as you.
A lot of 25 yr old kids today can't even change a tire ... if they even know they have a spare.
And judging by your pics and posts , I have little doubt that you're a handy guy to have around.
Most folks today couldn't drive that rig down an empty 2 lane hi-way without screwing it up .. let alone backing it down a tricky ramp.
As far as being uncivilized ..... my dad used to take me as a kid all day for days on end cutting firewood.
Cut down a tree and cut it up , load it , unload it , split it "by hand" stack it , etc
As we both got older and I moved out , etc ..... he started ordering wood delivered , at first it was long logs , he did the rest ..... and then he'd buy it already cut up and do the rest .............. and then he went to buying it already cut and split ................ and then he started paying to have it stacked.
Now he relies more on the furnace.
Anyhow , he calls me over one day.
Gives me a load of shovels , axes , mauls , wedges , and even pick axes ..... tells me they are now mine .......... and he referred to these as "tools of ignorance"
I found that amusing at the time but have slowly come to see his point.
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